I never was very good at softball. Yet, in 7th grade, all my girlfriends were joining teams. So I begged my mom to let me join. Me, a half-pint, wanted to play ball with these athletic girls. What was I thinking? The coach would yell at me, “Keep your eye on the ball. Elbows up.” Yet, I continued to squint my eyes as the ball came screaming across the plate and my elbow was down. I just prayed they would walk me. The strike zone was in my favor. “You’ll get them next time.” My coach would say when that strategy didn’t work. “You’ll get them next time.” I continued to go to practices on the field and the batting cages.
As I drove home from work today, I stuck to my usual routine. Coming down the hill, I held my breath hoping not to see another road kill coon or coyote. Once I’m on the other side, I called my husband. It’s a typical day. Until I heard a beep in my ear. It was my colleague.
“The doctor says I can’t return to work until April 1st,” said she. My stomach was as tight as a knot. A lump grew in my throat. She begins to cry. “I feel so bad.” And so do I. I feel bad for her and I feel bad for me. I offer words of support. Words I do believe in. But all I could think of in the back of my mind was this looming presentation and doing it alone. Did I prepare enough? Am I ready to do it alone?
Just last week I came to terms with doing a test run presentation this weekend alone. I thought, “Alright, I’ll suck it up and take one for the team. I got this. She’ll be there when the big day comes.”
She asks me, “Are you going to drop out?” In my head, I heard, “YES! YES! YES!” But that’s not me. I will follow through. However, those feelings of vulnerability kicked into full gear. I heard the rattling of my fixed mindset. The doomsday thoughts stream through. Those same feeling of striking out, this time in front of my colleagues, surface again. I didn’t… I’m not… I don’t… It’s not my game. Yet, here I am. I have to do this. I can do this. I pondered the thought of why do I have such a heavy heart. Then I remember the ending of that game.
As I came up to the home plate with a bat in hand, my heart was racing. It was my turn. “Batter up.” The ump yells. Everyone moved in close, real close. “Easy out! Hey Batter! Easy out!” They yelled. Tears welled up in my eyes. I so badly wanted to hit that ball and show them I’ve been preparing for this moment. “Half-pint up to bat.” Some players on my team agreed. I was an easy out.
I know I didn’t keep my eye on the ball. I know I didn’t keep my elbow up. I did go up to that plate. I did swing. I felt the vibration of the ball meeting the bat. The tingling feeling raced up my arms. My eyes popped wide open. Lost in a trance, I watched the ball go over their heads. My teammates began to yell, “Run, Joan, run!” Reawakening, I dropped the bat and put my little legs in motion. I dashed to first base. I was a bundle of emotions. I did it! I did it! When life serves you a curve ball, be ready to take the swing; hit it high and hit it far.